Recent trip to France, not classic bikes but air cooled vtwins OK...
France. June 2010
This year's long trip was around France. We booked the outward tunnel crossing and three days in Provence but that was all, the rest we made up as we went along.
Aboard the shuttle Sunday evening:
We went on a Sunday evening and stayed at the Hotel Kyriad Calais Plage, bog standard modern hotel but just across the road from the beach:
Monday morning,, Autoroute 26 south as far as Saint Quentin then back roads through Champagne country to the Camping Municipal at Epernay:
rained a bit in the night but very warm. Next day mostly Autoroute as far south as Dole, decided to stop at Salins les Bains in Jura, nice old spa town in a lovely part of the world. Time to inflate myself:
Wednesday headed south via Autoroute as far as Grenoble and the camping at Vizille, had a couple of heavy rain showers on the way. As we put the tent up it started to pour down. Chatted to a couple of English guys on their way to Nice. Take-away pizza that night. As we went to bed the rain started to really come down hard and then the thunder and lightning started and carried on for about 5 hours raining hard all the time. At about 07:30 we were thinking "we cant pack up and set off in this" when the rain stopped. The tent had not leaked a drop. Outside the ground was waterlogged but soon started to drain away. Two mugs we had left empty outside the tent were now full of rain water up to about 1/2" from the top:
We soon found out that the same storm a little further south had caused severe flooding and 19 deaths.
Set off from Vizille straight on the famous N85 "Route Napoleon" through the mountains, this is a great road, the sun came out, stopped for lunch in Gap (the town, not the shop) More N85 from Gap to Castellane and in to the Gorges du Verdon where we had booked a cabin for 3 nights.
Spent time generally lazing about and exploring the gorges, well worth a visit, tons of bikers around.
We eventually hit the road again, by now it had got unseasonably cold, only about 4 degrees C in the morning. Rode in a general NW direction across the mountains before calling it a day at Die where we (I) chickened out of camping and pitched up at Hotel Les Alpes in Die , recommended place, the owner is a biker and parking for motos is free in the hotel lockup parking place.
Die was well worth exploring, lots of lumps of Roman masonry reused in the town walls.
Down to the Rhone valley and across it on a very windy and cold day. However the ride from Privas to St Agreve through the Ardeche was fantastic. We had decided to aim for Saint Julien Chapteuil but when we got near the weather was still cold so once more we chose a hotel for the night.
Next day dawned... warm and sunny! Hoorah! Stopped off in Le Puy en Velay for a look around the cathedral and a loiter in the cloisters:
Onwards NW past Clermont Ferrand and Chateauroux, found a superb campsite at Chateauneuf les Bains, next to a river, spotless facilities, even a fridge for campers to use. Definitely the best site we stayed at.
Onwards ever onwards! Next night camped at Amboise on the Loire, large campsite which was OK but a silly security gate with a PIN number which was alright except for the fact that it "does not work so well for the motos" which we were told AFTER punching in the code many times while other campers in cars queued up behind us in the boiling sun. So, dont camp there on a bike.
Stopped on the way there at a little town called Culan. The word "sleepy" was first written after a visit here:
Next day stopped off at Chartres where we could park up outside the cathedral which really is impressive:
Found a good little site near Vernon:
Next day we took in Monet's garden near Giverny, very hot, very beautiful but very busy:
The following day was a Friday and we thought we would camp somewhere near Boulougne and have a leisurely trip home on Saturday. We must have tried 6 campsites but every one in the area was little more than a trailer park with hundreds of parked up caravans. Not what I would call a camp site so we opted for a hotel again.
On the Saturday we rocked up at the tunnel to buy a ticket but BE WARNED if you dont buy in advance its very expensive, £73 EACH instead of the £22 we paid on the way out... oops. Admittedly it was 12:00 and peak time but an advance booking would have been about half that.
And then it was all over. Home safely after a great trip of about 2,000 miles, some great roads, great sights, good food and wine and mostly great weather.
Here is a link to the full set of pics: Flickr slideshow http://www.flickr.com/photos/afuller18/sets/72157624405663058/show/